The first week of Lent is over, which means we can more or less resume our normal lives. In many ways, that only makes things more difficult, because the split between our life in the world and our life hidden in Christ becomes so striking. Despite all it requires of us – rescheduling our meetings, rearranging our jobs around the church services, working at strange hours to free the time for church – it somehow feels easier when our hidden life reveals itself and takes over our daily life.
At least, it seems easier to me. I prefer open spiritual war to a state of apparent balance; I prefer to know what I’m up against, rather than have my eyes covered. Apparent peace is more dangerous than spiritual war, because it can gradually blind one. Without visible opposition, one loses sight of the final goal (the Resurrection!) and gets caught in the lukewarm piety and pretence of prayer of daily life. Without knowing it, the fire of the first week of Lent dies out and we gradually slip back into spiritual pretence and make believe.
One cannot pretend to be in Lent, because Lent is like Life – one either is part of it, or one isn’t; there is no middle ground. Lent begins with our fall from Paradise and it is fulfilled with our joining Christ in His Resurrection. There can be nothing ‘normal’ and relaxed about the time between these two events, there can be no place for fake piety and prayer. Do not allow the apparent peace and quiet of the following few weeks weaken you. Do not let your guard down. Remember that you are caught in that time between the Fall and the Resurrection, in that space between Hell and Heaven.
Finally – and this sounds horrid, but it is vital for this period – remember that you are at war, fighting for nothing less than your salvation in Christ; remember that a silent, hidden enemy is much more dangerous than one who fights in the open. Be watchful and be prepared. Do not lose your state of tension. You are at war; behave like a soldier.